The Parental Energy Chart

It seems as if your children are at their most energetic when you're at your least.

The graph below proves just that: Parental energy and a child's needs are most frequently at odds with each other. I think it's nature's way of encouraging kids to learn to play by themselves.

• As you can see, nighttime is easy because both energy and need are at zero. But notice the spike that occurs at 5AM. Generally there is some sort of waking during this hour, which requires a bit of attention at a time when parental energy has flatlined.

• At 7AM, need is at one hundred. During this hour, the parent is awake, but has yet to imbibe any caffeine. This is a difficult sixty minutes.

• By 8AM, need has dropped slightly, and now, having slugged back some coffee, the parent has plenty of energy. Meanwhile, the child may have wandered off to play by himself, only calling for his mother every five minutes or so to help him find something. Usually this time is spent doing dishes or answering emails.

• By 11AM, the parent is feeling pretty good, but when lunch comes around, energy starts to dip, and falls consistently for the next two hours. During this stretch, a three-year-old child is struggling with fatigue as well, but instead of napping, he insists on having a rave, or riding the parent like a horse throughout the house. This energy peaks at 2PM. when the parent is trying desperately just to keep her eyes open. This is a good hour to invent a game that involves lying down. "Put stuff on top of Mommy" is a good one. It's possible to lose consciousness, either because you've fallen asleep or suffocated under the weight of a giant stuffed bear.

• This brief rest generally results in a resurgence of energy, but the child has gotten through his difficult hours and now wanders off to remove all the sheets from the bed, or build a tower with cans of cat food. Now is a good time to make dinner. Once everyone is seated at the table, the children suddenly appear to have just freebased methamphetamine. The parent, on the other hand, is exhausted and ready to go home to a nice tumbler of scotch, but realizes she already is home and weeps softly on the inside.

• 6PM until bedtime is complete chaos. At 7:15 or so, a child might be seen chasing his parent through the house while wielding a flashlight and screaming something about batteries. From 7PM to 8PM, the only real option is to have a glass of wine (a big one). This, of course, causes you to fall asleep at 9PM. and when that 5AM. waking occurs, the parent realizes the harsh reality that she only gets an hour off per day.

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